It was heartening, then, to see last year’s focus on overtourism moving on to more practical tips this year, encouraging destinations to think more critically about managing their tourism flows.
Central to this is persuading tourist boards to champion lesser-known regions. One destination eager to follow this path is Italy, whose national tourist board sponsored the WTM Buyers’ Club.
As we explore on in this week’s TTG, the country is keen to remind visitors of attractions other than Venice or Rome, and its focus on agriturismi entices tourists who prioritise nature (and their bellies) while on holiday in the countryside.
Meanwhile, we highlight ways in which clients can discover less-familiar areas of Asia – and keep fit at the same time – through a range of cycling tours.
And even in major cities, operators are thinking more innovatively about visitor experiences.
WTM London delegates heard how metropolitan destinations “can cope with their success” – with the managing director of Turisme de Barcelona explaining how the Catalan capital – which saw several protests relating to overtourism last year – has led the way in addressing these challenges.
It’s a concern that tour operator Culinary Backstreets has capitalised on by offering visitors a more immersive view of cities, “shining a light on the more humble establishments”.
It’s exactly these kinds of tours that will become ever more crucial as tourist numbers continue to grow. And with “experiential travel” the buzzword for 2018, they could provide a win-win for traveller and destination alike.